Should lifelong Alaskan and Homer City Council candidate Caroline Venuti be voted into office, she hopes to use her experience from a career in education to suss out solutions to the main issues currently facing the city.
Venuti, coordinator of the Learning Resource Center at Kachemak Bay Campus, grew up in Kodiak. She attended University of Alaska Fairbanks and University of Alaska Anchorage, earning a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education and administration.
She has been in Homer for about 33 years after arriving from Hope, where she was a teacher. Her career in education continued on through Paul Banks Elementary and West Homer Elementary. Her mother, who was very active in her own community, was recently honored, and Venuti received the notice from the Alaska Legislature.
“They had this really nice commendation for her,” she said. “And I read it and I thought, ‘Gee, that’s my mother’s legacy. Why am I not running for city council when there’s only two people running?’ … And so that was what made me decide to get into politics. I’m not a politician.”
Venuti has also served on the Homer Library Advisory Board and the City Transportation Committee. Those experiences are what showed her how much the council relies on the work and information from the city’s boards, committees and commissions in order to make the best decisions they can.
There are the main reasons she decided to run for council, she said. Venuti has outlined four issues regarding the city in her candidate statement: encouraging growth in Homer, maintaining fiscal responsibility, keeping the city up to date in terms of climate change and resilient infrastructure, and creating harmonious interactions between residents.
“I want Homer to continue to be a livable city, with handicap access, with clear signs for traffic, with a caring attitude,” she said. “I want growth for young people so they can stay, not have to leave.”
Venuti said she doesn’t have the answers to those issues right now, but that she wants to work toward finding them through discussion and compromise on the council. She would welcome all ideas to the table, she said, and says it’s a positive that she wouldn’t be coming to the council with any agendas or notions about the best solutions to issues facing Homer.
Venuti cited her experience as a principal as something that would make her a good council member.
“I had to manage people, I had to listen, I had to bring out the best in my students,” she said. “And I think that’s what I want to do at city council, is bring out the best in the people that come before us and I would never ever want to put anybody down or not listen to their ideas. I’m looking for solutions, and so anybody that has a solution I think I will pay attention to, of course, and listen.”
One of Venuti’s main concerns is ensuring that young people and their families find Homer livable and have opportunities that will keep them here.
“I’ve taught kindergarten all the way through college, and I’ve seen people leave because they could not find … a job that would support them and their family here,” she said. “And that always breaks my heart because I think, well, they might not ever come back. Some of them do, some of them don’t.”
Part of contributing to the workforce for young people in Homer is supporting the college, Venuti said, as it prepares people for jobs. Venuti would also like to explore more opportunities for businesses to help them achieve long-range success and sustainability.